Lucinda Brand secured the overall in the women’s classification after finishing second on the tight, technical course in Overijse, while van Aert took the men’s.
Van Aert’s victory came after a faultless ride while second-place Mathieu van der Poel saw a poorly-timed puncture derail the start of his race and then a series of slips and slides through the final laps negate his efforts to chase down his rival. While it gives van Aert some mental advantage ahead of next weekend’s world championships in Oostende, he said that his rivalry with van der Poel will be as fierce as ever in the race for the rainbow bands.
“It’s great to go with this mental victory ahead of the worlds, but it’s a completely different course at Oostende next weekend, so this wasn’t a true test,” van Aert said. “It was really muddy and a lot of altitude meters here, but it’s still one hour of racing. Me and Mathieu have been the favorites for every track this season and that will be the same next week.”
Van der Poel and van Aert led the race from the very start after the Belgian had set a fierce pace through the opening lap.
The pair became separated on lap 3 when van der Poel punctured and was forced to ride a long section before swapping bikes, allowing van Aert to ride away. Meanwhile, Tom Pidcock, Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts had been chasing and linked up with van der Poel as he nursed his puncture back to the pits.
By the end of the third lap, Van Aert had nearly 20 seconds of a lead as van der Poel set off on a furious solo chase. The world champ clawed into van Aert’s advantage to come to within 10 seconds, only for the Jumbo-Visma riders to again stretch out the advantage. Behind them, Pidcock pulled away from the chasers to move into third by a clear margin.
Van der Poel turned on the turbos again on lap 5 and 6, and began to close in on the race leader. However, a series of slips and stumbles in lap 7 saw him again losing time as Van Aert continued without fault.
Heading into the final lap, Van Aert had around 50 seconds’ lead over van der Poel. Behind the Dutchman, Pidcock and Vanthourenhout battled together for third place.
Van Aert held his lead to take the win by 1:03 in a key psychological blow over van der Poel ahead of the world championships. Pidcock took third having shaken off Vanthourenhout through the start of the final lap.
Despite his dominant win, van Aert talked down his chances in next weekend’s duel with van der Poel.
“It’s good to have this victory and it gives me something mentally extra for next week,” Van Aert said. “But Mathieu has shown in previous weeks he’s the favorite.”
Alvarado went toe-to-toe with Brand through the middle of the race before using her technical skills to ride away from her rival in the final lap to take her second win in two days.
“We were quite equal in the uphills, but the downhills were where I was able to make a difference,” Alvarado said. “I think I stood out today in those sections.”
Alvarado’s duo of victories this weekend puts her on the front foot ahead of her world title defense next weekend.
“Whether I am at my best a week before the world championship? I am not quite where I want to be after my internship, but this already gives a great feeling,” she said.
Alvarado had been at the front of the race early on, battling with Denise Betsema for the lead position as the field remained tight at the front. Toward the middle of the race, Brand and Mannon Bakker joined Betsema and Alvarado to form a lead quartet.
Meanwhile, Clara Honsinger had worked her way through the field to lead the chase just a few meters back.
Brand and Alvarado peeled off the front in the fourth lap and Honsinger led the chase, only for Bakker to then pull her back and drop the U.S. champ.
Going into the final lap, Alvarado and Brand remained inseparable as Brand’s big power matched Alvarado’s technical skills. However, Alvarado was able to edge out a gap through a twisting downhill in the back-half of the lap to ride away from Brand and continue on to victory.
Bakker bridged to Brand in the final section of the circuit, but the Baloise rider was able to outsprint her challenger to take second in the race and seal the World Cup overall.